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Annu Rev Psychol. 2011;62:419-49. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-120709-145357.

Culture, mind, and the brain: current evidence and future directions.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA. kitayama@umich.edu

Abstract

Current research on culture focuses on independence and interdependence and documents numerous East-West psychological differences, with an increasing emphasis placed on cognitive mediating mechanisms. Lost in this literature is a time-honored idea of culture as a collective process composed of cross-generationally transmitted values and associated behavioral patterns (i.e., practices). A new model of neuro-culture interaction proposed here addresses this conceptual gap by hypothesizing that the brain serves as a crucial site that accumulates effects of cultural experience, insofar as neural connectivity is likely modified through sustained engagement in cultural practices. Thus, culture is "embrained," and moreover, this process requires no cognitive mediation. The model is supported in a review of empirical evidence regarding (a) collective-level factors involved in both production and adoption of cultural values and practices and (b) neural changes that result from engagement in cultural practices. Future directions of research on culture, mind, and the brain are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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